The primary (baby) teeth are more important than you may think. At Aurora Children’s Dentistry, we offer several services designed to improve or maintain these teeth before major complications occur. A common treatment for primary teeth involves the placement of a space maintainer.
What Is a Space Maintainer?
A space maintainer is an oral appliance that, as the name suggests, keeps teeth in their proper position. We usually recommend a space maintainer after your child loses a primary tooth prematurely. This appliance will prevent the remaining teeth from invading the open space.
Not every child who loses a primary tooth early needs a space maintainer. During an initial consultation, our doctors will perform a thorough exam to determine if an appliance is necessary to the development of your child’s oral health. Without a space maintainer, the remaining teeth may cause eruption issues that result in impacted or misaligned permanent teeth.
Types of Space Maintainers
There are two types of space maintainers for primary teeth. The type of appliance we suggest depends on your preferences and your child’s individual needs. A fixed maintainer is by far the most common option.
Fixed space maintainers include:
The other type of space maintainer is removable and less common. Most of these maintainers are made from acrylic and are similar to an orthodontic retainer. In some cases, the retainer-like appliance attaches to an artificial tooth. This may be ideal for a tooth lost in the visible smile line, especially if cosmetics are a concern.
We usually recommend fixed maintainers for our younger patients because they require less responsibility. A removable appliance is easier to damage or lose. Talk with our doctors to learn more about your child’s options during their appointment.
Caring for a Space Maintainer
It may take some time for your child to get used to their new appliance. As with orthodontic devices, a space maintainer can affect the way they eat and speak. Minor irritation or discomfort is normal and should dissipate after the first few days.
Both fixed and removable space maintainers require special care. If your child receives a fixed device, be sure they avoid sticky or hard foods that could loosen or damage the appliance. Removable maintainers should be removed before eating and drinking anything besides water. They also need to be removed before your child does their oral hygiene routine.
To prevent oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease, be sure your child pays special attention to the teeth fitted with a fixed maintainer. During this time, we may ask you to schedule appointments at frequent intervals so we can monitor their progress. A loose or damaged appliance needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Schedule an Appointment
If your child has prematurely lost a primary tooth, they may need a space maintainer. Call 907-336-1234 to schedule an appointment now.